The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), which includes the work of University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa faculty members and students, presented their major scientific results to date from the first five years of experiments on the International Space Station. AMS is a Department of Energy high-energy physics experiment for the spectroscopy of cosmic rays.
AMS researchers at UH Mānoa includes Department of Physics and Astronomy Associate Professor Veronica Bindi; Assistant Professor Philip Von Doetinchem; postdocs Christina Consolandi, Amaresh Datta and Matteo Palermo; PhD students Claudio Corti, Travis Nelson and Katie Whitman and other undergraduate students.
Bindi research group
Bindi’s main research topics are the study of dark matter, cosmic rays, solar physics and space radiation. Since 2002, she has been part of the team at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, that leads the construction, integration and testing of AMS.
She is the principal investigator of two grants—one funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Radiation Group involving the future manned mission to Mars and a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award to study solar energetic particles.
Her research group analyzed cosmic ray fluxes of different particle species continuously over five years of AMS operation. The research shows, with unprecedented accuracy, how these particles are affected by the solar activity. Furthermore, they prove that positive and negative particles show a different behavior related to the change of the solar magnetic field polarity. This intriguing result, never observed before in such detail, will require improvements of theoretical models to be understood.
Doetinchem research group
Doetinchem’s group is conducting the challenging search for a very rare species of cosmic rays that has yet to be found—antideuterons. Antideuterons are composed of the antiparticles of the proton and the neutron, which are essential building blocks for every known element. A first-time detection of antideuterons in space is a particularly promising way to learn more about the mysterious dark matter, which is more than five times more abundant than the matter that the solar system and stars are made of.
Doetinchem received an NSF CAREER award in 2016 for this study with the AMS experiment. He is also involved in additional experimental efforts to tackle other aspects of the same question and is part of the team that was just selected from NASA to build the new General AntiParticle Spectrometer experiment.
—By Tony Hall